Are You Exercising Too Hard? Signs of Overexertion

4 minute read

By Heather Fishel

When you overwork your body during exercise, you may experience overexertion. Fortunately, if you start a search online, you can learn everything you need to know about the potential signs and symptoms of overexertion.

A tough workout is usually a good thing – it’ll push you and your body, building strength and getting every muscle in your body working. But while regular exercise is important, sometimes a difficult heart-pumping workout can do more harm than good.

What is Overexertion?

Overexertion is a pretty simple phenomenon: it occurs when you push yourself too hard.

You can overexert yourself in many different ways. But, when it comes to exercise, overexertion tends to happen when you workout too long, at too high of an intensity, or performing moves that are too difficult. If your workout involves physical effort that’s beyond your abilities, then you’ll push yourself too hard and wind up overexerted.

Overexertion can vary depending on your age, your medical history, and the exact kinds of workouts you’re trying. But regardless of how you’re overexerting yourself, you can wind up with serious injuries like strains, sprains, and fractures.

In order to avoid exertion, you’ll want to look for the following signs, all of which can signal potential overexertion caused by exercising too much or pushing yourself too hard.

1. Numbness or Weakness

When you feel numbness or weakness in any part of your body, you could be experiencing overexertion in the form of an overuse injury.

Overuse injuries, which can also be called repetitive strain injuries, tend to develop over time. So, if you’re regularly performing exercises or participating in workouts that cause you to overexert yourself, you can develop these injuries. 

You might not immediately notice that you’re giving yourself an injury from overexertion. The symptoms of repetitive strain injuries can be pretty subtle – you might even think you’re just sore from a tough workout. Symptoms of an overuse injury typically include:

In some cases, you’ll only experience these symptoms when you’re performing a certain activity. For example, if you’re swinging a racket or doing pushups, you might experience pain. When you’re jogging, however, you might feel nothing at all. 

2. Fatigue

If you’re feeling tired after a workout, you probably take that as a sign that you got in a really great sweat session. But if you’re feeling tired more often than usual, or you’re feeling fatigued rather than merely tired, you could be experiencing overexertion. 

Fatigue is a common sign of overexertion. You might experience mental or physical fatigue – meaning your body and your mind can both feel burned out, sluggish, and just plain exhausted.

Determining what’s fatigue and what’s normal tiredness can be tricky. Physical fatigue can include symptoms like a heavy feeling in your limbs, persistent soreness, slow recovery after workouts, and poor performance during exercise. Mental fatigue is different – it can bring on symptoms like brain fog, mood changes, difficulty concentrating, stress or anxiety, or even depression.

3. Dizziness or Feeling Faint

Another common symptom that can tell you you’ve overexerted yourself is dizziness. Often accompanied by feeling faint, or a feeling like you’re going to pass out, dizziness happens when you’ve pushed yourself far too hard during any kind of physical exercise.

Dizziness can come along with other symptoms, including:

It’s important to note that dizziness can also be a sign of other health issues in addition to overexertion. So, if you’re frequently feeling dizzy – or are dizzy regardless of your workouts – make sure to talk with your doctor.

4. Frequent Pain and Injuries

Frequent pain and injuries are one of the most pressing signs of overexertion. If you’re frequently developing new injuries or feeling pain during and after your workouts, you’re putting your body through activities that are simply too strenuous.

When you continually overexert yourself and your body’s capabilities, your body can’t heal itself as well. And each time you overexert yourself by performing another strenuous activity (or another tough workout), the problem compounds. 

Additionally, pain can appear in many forms. The pain caused by overexertion goes beyond basic muscle soreness – it can be sharp or tingling, burning or throbbing. You might feel pinching pain too. 

All of these symptoms are a sign that you need to stop what you’re doing and end your workouts until your body has a chance to recover properly.

Overexertion Can Lead to Serious Health Consequences

If you think overexertion isn’t too big of an issue, it’s critically important that you reassess how you’re working out. Overexerting yourself regularly when you exercise can bring on a whole host of health issues, including pain, dizziness, and an inability to recover fully. 

But what’s most concerning about overexertion is the long-term effects of consistently pushing yourself and your body too far. If you frequently over-exercise and work yourself too hard, you can develop all of the symptoms mentioned here are more.

Regularly exercising too frequently, for too long, or beyond your body’s safe zone can lead to serious health consequences. It can actually loosen your intestinal barrier, the barrier that protects your gut. This can lead to intestinal permeability, or as it’s better known, leaky gut syndrome. That, in turn, can cause you to develop increased inflammation and an immune response – and you could develop autoimmune disorders.

Overexertion and its effects on the body can also make you more likely to develop conditions like metabolic diseases (including type 2 diabetes) and depression. So, if you want to exercise for your health, it’s important that you recognize your limits.

Heather Fishel